True Crime News Roundup: Tennessee Man Accused Of Killing Wife On Their Honeymoon In Fiji
Plus: A Georgia man travels to Chicago to shoot his ex wife before killing himself; Indiana pizza maker rescues five children from house fire; officials in Africa want to speak with ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ author about murder case; and Kristin Smart murder trial begins in California.
A Tennessee man is accused of murdering his new wife during their honeymoon in the South Pacific.
Authorities in Fiji have charged Bradley Robert Dawson, 38, with the July 9 murder of his wife of less than five months, 39-year-old Christe Chen.
According to investigators, Chen was found dead in the couple’s suite at the Turtle Island Resort in the Yasawa Islands.
Officials have not said how Chen died, but a post-mortem exam report viewed by the Daily Mail allegedly shows the victim suffered blunt force trauma to the head as well as other injuries.
Dawson’s attorney, Iqbal Khan, said his client maintains he’s innocent of the accusations against him.
“Something surprising happened,” Khan, told the outlet, which reported the couple allegedly got into “a heated argument” prior to Chen’s death. “Bradley's okay now but he was really distressed when it happened. Last week he was in a desperate condition but he's picking up now. It is a horrendous thing to happen on your honeymoon.”
“There is no way he can be convicted of murder. No way. Full stop,” Khan insisted, explaining, “On the evidence that they have presented so far, there's no proof of the charge of murder with intention to kill or premeditation. Nothing of that sort whatsoever.
He added: “On the face of it, it looks like an accident, but I will be able to confirm that once I get the full disclosure next week and get in front of other witnesses.”
Chen, who lived in Memphis with her IT expert husband, worked as a pharmacist and a colleague told The Daily Beast the couple were married on Feb. 18 after “some kind of a whirlwind romance.”
“I am in shock,” one of Chen’s friends, Rena Schomburg, told the Daily Mail. “I just texted all my friends and my husband, telling them I hope it’s not real. But my husband told me it is real. She was so excited to get married and have babies.”
“It’s so sad,” Schomburg added, noting Chen never mentioned having any problems with her new husband. “She didn’t have a bad bone in her body.”
Dawson is scheduled to next appear in court on July 27.
A Georgia man who hoped to salvage a relationship with his ex-wife traveled to Chicago and killed her before turning the gun on himself, authorities say.
Police in Chicago found the bodies of a woman and her ex-husband in a Chicago condo after an apparent murder-suicide.
According to the Chicago Tribune, on July 18, officers conducting a wellbeing check on the home of 29-year-old Sania Khan heard a gunshot followed by a man groaning.
Officers entered the residence, where they found Khan suffering a fatal shot to the back of her head, and her estranged ex, Raheel Ahmad, 36, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Ahmad had a gun in his hand and there was a suicide note nearby, police said.
The suspected shooter had been reported missing in Alpharetta, Georgia, where he was living at the time of the incident, and police wrote in a report obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times that he traveled to the Windy City in an attempt to “salvage the marriage.”
Khan, a former flight attendant who was working as a professional photographer, moved to Chicago from Tennessee in June 2021.
She detailed the end of her relationship with Ahmad in several TikTok posts and recently shared that she’s “never been happier.”
“It's painful to walk away from someone you once loved,” Khan wrote on the social media platform about reportedly divorcing in May. “But it's even more painful to love someone who is careless with your heart.”
“Going through a divorce as a South Asian Woman feels like you failed at life sometimes," she noted in another post. “The way the community labels you, the lack of emotional support you receive, and the pressure to stay with someone because 'what will people say' is isolating. It makes it harder for women to leave a marriage that they shouldn't have been in to begin with.”
Donations to a GoFundMe set up in Khan’s name will go toward funeral expenses as well as two national charities that help Muslim and South Asian victims of domestic violence.
A man in Indiana is hailed as a hero after he rescues five children from a house fire.
A Papa John’s pizza maker on his way to get gas is credited with saving the lives of five children caught in a house fire in Indiana.
Around midnight on July 10, Nicholas Bostic, 25, turned around after he drove past a home in flames in Lafayette and rushed in through an unlocked back door to see if anyone was trapped, The Washington Post reported.
“I shouted, ‘Anybody here? Get out! Get out! Fire!’” he said, according to the outlet.
Bostic was on the verge of leaving when he spotted 18-year-old Seionna Barrett and her two siblings, Shaylee, 13, and Kaleia, 1, as well as Shaylee’s friend, Livian Knifley, 13, on the stairs leading to the home’s second floor.
According to The Post, Seionna was babysitting while her parents were out for the evening.
Once safely outside, Seionna told Bostic another of her sisters, 6-year-old Kaylani, was still inside the burning house.
“I ran inside and looked under beds and closets, but I couldn’t find her,” Bostic recalled. “But when I got to the stairs that led downstairs, I heard some faint crying.”
“I rolled her up in my arm like a football, then felt my way back up the stairs,” he said. “It was extremely hot and smoky, and it was painful to breathe. The only light I could see was coming from the rooms upstairs. So I headed up there.”
Bostic broke a window and leaped out with the child in his arms. He suffered smoke inhalation and first-degree burns during the rescue.
“He knew he was risking his life,” Lt. Randy Sherer of the Lafayette Police Department said. “There’s only one way to define that: courageous and heroic.”
David Barrett, 39, said he and his wife, Tiera Barrett, “feel very blessed” that Bostic, who he called “a real hero,” saved the lives of the children, all of whom were unharmed.
“I don’t like to think about what might have happened if Nick hadn’t shown up,” the father said, noting Bostic is officially now considered part of the family. “I’m grateful beyond words.”
Bostic explained to the Washington Post that he “was just trying to do what was right that night.”
Authorities in Africa continue to search for answers in the deadly 1995 shooting connected with a famous novelist.
A new movie based on the popular 2018 novel ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ has renewed questions about author Delia Owens and her possible connection to the death of a suspected elephant poacher in Zambia, The New York Times reported.
According to the publication, in 1995, Delia and her then husband, Mark Owens, were involved in conservation work in the south-central African country when an ABC documentary crew filming the news-magazine show Turning Point in North Luangwa National Park captured the poacher’s shooting death on video.
Whoever fired the shots that killed the man is not seen in the footage.
The following year, Zambian officials launched an investigation into the incident but the case, which remains open, was never solved.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Zambia’s director of public prosecutions, Lillian Shawa-Siyuni, noted Zambia does not have a statute of limitations on murder.
“They are all wanted for questioning in this case, including Delia Owens,” Shawa-Siyuni said.
According to The Atlantic, Mark allegedly faxed a letter to a professional hunter talking about shootings in the area around the time of the incident.
“To date I have flown eight airborne antipoaching operations over your area, including four in which I inserted scouts on ambush,” Mark allegedly wrote. “Two poachers have been killed and one wounded that I know of thus far, and we are just getting warmed up.”
Delia told The Times in 2019 that she “was not involved” in the shooting and that “there was never a case, there was nothing.”
The Kristin Smart murder trial begins in California.
In proceedings that are expected to last as long as four months, prosecutors and the lawyers for Paul Flores and his father, Ruben Flores, presented opening statements during the first week of the Kristin Smart murder trial in Monterey County, California.
Paul, now 45, is accused of killing 19-year-old freshman Kristin following a fraternity party near their school, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, in May 1996. Ruben, 81, faces charges that he helped conceal the teenager’s body following the presumed slaying.
Smart’s remains were never found, and the father and son, who were arrested in April 2021, have each pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Prosecutors have alleged Paul raped or attempted to rape Smart and then killed her while the two were in his dorm room.
According to The Tribune, on July 18, San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle told the jury in opening statements: “During her freshman year, [Kristin’s parents] looked forward every Sunday to a phone call from her — it was their ritual. But on May 26, 1996, at 9:47 a.m., [as the] Smart family was waiting for Kristin’s call, Paul [Flores] was calling his dad for help.”
After Smart disappeared, Peuvrelle alleged that “the entire community banded together to search” for her but “Paul and Ruben Flores did not join in.”
“You will hear Ruben Flores would tear down missing posters of Kristin — tore down her smiling, beautiful face — called her a ‘dirty slut,’ all while her corpse was decomposing underneath his deck,” he claimed in court, according to Fox News.
Peuvrelle told jurors soil samples taken during a search outside the Flores’ home tested positive for human blood and he claimed cadaver dogs alerted to possible remains while in Paul’s dormitory, CNN reported.
In opening statements, Paul’s lawyer, Robert Sanger, pointed out what he said was the prosecution’s lack of forensic evidence and eyewitnesses that could implicate his client in a possible murder.
Ruben’s defense lawyer, Harold Mesick, told the court that accusations and theories about how the elderly man helped dispose of Smart’s body were improbable and that investigators have nothing linking him to a crime. “We still don’t know what happened,” Mesick told the jury. “There’s virtually zero physical evidence.
On July 21, Smart’s mother, Denise, took the stand to testify and recalled how she felt staff at her daughter’s school and law enforcement were brushing off the family’s concerns about the teenager’s disappearance.
“I felt like the life of my daughter was of no value to anyone except her family,” she said, according to Courthouse News Service.
Denise recalled in court how she wrote a letter to her child shortly before she went missing and advised the student having a difficult time at school to “to get back on track” with her studies and responsibilities. “I never would have thought it was my last letter to write to my daughter.”
“This moment in time did not define who Kristin was, or the value of her life at all,” she told the defendants’ attorneys on cross-examination.